MICK O'Neill says he wants to bring back the days of Cougarmania after completing his takeover of Keighley Cougars.

The former chairman returns to the role he held at Cougar Park in the 1990s after heading a consortium.

Cougars have been lifted out of special measures imposed by the Rugby Football League but will start the new Betfred League One season next month on -12 points due to the club moving companies in pre-season. Cougars are now able to sign players after previously having a squad of up to 25 on trialist forms.

The takeover was completed on Wednesday and O'Neill immediately flew over from his base in Australia to Keighley. He met Cougars fans at a special event at Keighley Cricket Club last night.

All eyes are now on the start of Cougars' season, which kicks off at Whitehaven on February 17.

Speaking exclusively to the Telegraph & Argus, O'Neill said: "I'm really excited. It's like I have never been away somehow.

"I want everybody to be happy and enjoy it, instead of the nonsense that's been going on.

"I want to be in charge for 18 months and then get some younger people to take over. Unless I get carried away and decide to stay longer.

"I'm over here for 10 days now to try to get things organised. I will look to come back again in March, then I will stay for two or three months.

"That's why I wanted to come over, I did not need to, but I think it's my duty to come over to thank the supporters. They have been brilliant."

Cougars legend Phil Stephenson, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017, has been named as club president by the new owners.

The club's directors who will share a 90 per cent stake in Cougars are O'Neill's son Ryan and his husband Kaue Garcia. They will be joined by Mike Loughtman, who was born in Keighley but has lived in Australia for more than 60 years, Mike Smith, co-director from the Cougarmania era, and former Cougars company secretary Tim Wood.

The remaining 10 per cent of shares will be given to Cougars supporters.

Gary Murgatroyd has replaced Steve Gill as the club's general manager, after he quit to join Championship side Featherstone Rovers last month. Neil Cullen and Simon Harrison have been named as vice presidents. Craig Lingard will remain as head coach.

The club's new owners have announced they will reduce admission prices at Cougar Park from £15 to £10, with free admission for under 12s.

O'Neill also had words of praise for the Cougars squad who have trained since last month on trialist forms while the club remained in special measures.

He added: "If the players have stuck this long with Craig and have stayed loyal they deserve a little bit of credit for that.

"We could make the top six this season with a bit of luck. We can compete, the world is our oyster. I have not seen the lads train as I have been in Australia."

It brings an end to a turbulent pre-season for Cougars.

After last summer's takeover, a company called Austria Holdings Ltd was registered at Companies House, and over the next few months the ownership and legal control of that company passed to a number of individuals who did not appear to have any connection to the club.

Players and staff said they were not paid for two months which led to the departure of a number of last season's squad.

Keighley MP John Grogan, who had raised Cougars' pre-season plight in the House of Commons, said: "This is the best news the town has had for a long while.

"The Cougars are the beating heart of Keighley and everybody is hoping this is the start of an exciting new era.

"Regarding the points deduction it is probably a matter of taking it on the chin and using it as an extra incentive."